Background Rectal douching, which is a common practice among men who have sex men (MSM) as a preparation for anal sex, may potentially increase the risk of HIV infection. However, little is known about the practice of rectal douching among Chinese MSM. This study investigated the characteristics of rectal douching and factors associated with rectal douching.
Between January and March 2019, MSM aged ≥18 years in six cities in China were recruited to the study. Participants were asked to complete a self-administered online questionnaire. Chi-squared tests and multivariable logistic regression were used to examine factors associated with rectal douching by calculating odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
Of 485 MSM in this study, 278 (57.3%) practiced rectal douching in the preceding 6 months. The most common reasons for douching before and after anal sex were hygiene/cleanliness (78.6% and 66.1% respectively) and HIV/STI prevention (8.5% and 17.4% respectively). The most used enemas and equipment before and after anal sex were tap water (73.5% and 70.2% respectively) and showerhead hoses (76.1% and 75.2% respectively). Men who engaged in both insertive and receptive anal sex (OR 8.84; 95% CI 4.52-17.30), exclusively receptive anal sex (OR 6.56; 95% CI 3.55-12.13), condom-less anal intercourse (OR 1.64; 95% CI 1.03-2.63) and anal sex after alcohol use (OR 1.54; 95% CI 1.00-2.35) were more likely to perform douching.
Rectal douching is common in MSM, some of whom may not realise the potential risks associated with douching. The co-occurrence of douching and other high-risk behaviours would make MSM more vulnerable to HIV. Health education aimed at informing MSM of the potential risks and addressing the high prevalence of douching are urgently needed.